Mirroring a statewide drop in test scores, fewer high-poverty schools in Minnesota are “beating the odds” and outperforming expectations in math.
A Star Tribune analysis reveals that just 13% of those schools performed better than expected on last year’s Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs), down from 19% a year earlier.
That follows a longer trend; a few years ago, a third or more of high-poverty schools statewide were beating the odds in math. In reading, the number of schools performing better than expected has remained fairly flat in recent years.
There is a long-standing and well-documented connection between a school’s poverty rate and achievement on standardized tests. As the data show, schools with lower poverty rates tend to have higher scores. As a result, schools serving large numbers of poor students have a different perspective on what achievement looks like.
To level this playing field, the Star Tribune uses a statistical analysis called linear regression to compare each school’s proficiency rates in math and reading against what it was expected to achieve based on its poverty level.
In the charts, the lines represent the predicted proficiency rate. The schools — represented by dots — that are within 10 percentage points of that line are considered to be doing about as expected, while those farther below the line are falling short of expectations. Along the top, though, is where you will find the schools that are beating the odds.
This year, no high-poverty schools in the Minneapolis or St. Paul school districts outperformed expectations. Three schools in the state’s largest district, Anoka-Hennepin, made this year’s “beating the odds” list: Franklin, Hamilton and University elementary schools.
In the metro area, 36 high-poverty schools outperformed expectations in either reading or math in the 2018-19 academic year, down from a year ago, when 44 schools qualified for the distinction.
Statewide math scores among all schools dropped for the fourth straight year, with 54% of Minnesota students meeting state standards.